Japan – Okowa (Japanese Sticky Rice)

by Zayna Khan

This is Japanese-style steamed sticky rice. This special rice is cooked with vegetables and meat if you like to add on. It is sometimes used in breakfast and you can also eat this dish any time of the day because it is very light with low calories but the taste is very good. It is sometimes called sticky rice because the gelatinous nature of rice to be steamed for a long makes it sticky. Many herbs are added to this rice dish to make it more aromatic and good in taste.

Beans are must be added to this dish as a traditional way to get the exact texture and taste of the dish. This is a simple rice dish that is served with many other main courses like Japanese curry, sashimi, cooking Japanese sushi, onigiri, etc.

The word OKOWA came from the Japanese word, KOWAMESHI, which means ”Hard rice’‘. OKOWA means in this dish like we sometimes used different varieties of rice in making this dish. So this word is used in this dish but the nature of the dish is totally different because they are not hard rice, they are cooked sticky rice.

OKOWA used in making different dishes like

  • Japanese Sushi
  • Onigiri
  • Kayu ( rice porridge )
  • Dango ( rice flour dumplings )
  • Mochi etc


Onigiri is also known as Omusubi, or sometimes Rice balls. They are small balls of cooked rice which is mostly Okowa. These cooked rice balls are covered with Nori seaweed and having seafood meat inside. They have salted shrimp, prawns, salmon as meat options. Then they can have dried fruit like pickled Ume, sauteed tomatoes, etc.


Sushi usually have vinegar rice used into layering with the fish. But sometimes in Japanese sushi they used this dish Okowa in layering the sushi with tuna or salmon.


This rice dish has many variations in cooking methods, ingredients, and presentation of the dish. This dish is evolved with time because of the use of different ingredients according to the tase. like following below :

Red beans rice

Red beans rice is the same dish which is steamed rice but with the addition of red beans into this dish. Some herbs are added and sesame seed to make it more palatable and tasty in every bite. This rice is known as red beans rice. If we add red beans instead of white beans into the Okowa then we have this same dish came up with.


In Korea this dish is known as PATBAP. This okowa is also belong to the korean cuisine but with the korean twist and addition of their spices.

Pat is known as RED BEANS and Bap is known as grains/ grained rice. So in this dish red beans are added but not to the gelatinous rice but to the bran rice or grained rice. This makes it non-sticky rice but having almost the same taste.


This is almost the same dish as patbap having a twist. They used fresh beans to be added to the rice instead of dried kidney beans. These are fresh green beans to be added and then cooked in the same way by adding some herbs. But cooking time is definitely different for dried beans and fresh beans.

Xoi dau do

This is Vietnamese cuisine in which red beans sticky rice is very popular in having breakfast. They used the same gelatinous rice with red beans but they cooked this dish in slow heat like it took 3 to 5 hours to make it sticky and steamed with rice.


  • Glutinous rice
  • Mushrooms
  • carrots
  • Red beans
  • peas
  • adzuki beans
  • White beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chestnuts
  • Bamboo shoots


  • Char siu pork
  • sausages
  • salmon
  • chicken
  • Tuna
  • Prawns
  • Bacon
  • duck meat, etc



These are sweetened beans that can be used in making either dessert of savory dish. They are used in many cuisines and many traditional dishes are cooked by adding adzuki beans. A special traditional paste of adzuki beans is made known as ”ANKO

There are many names of the same beans like

  • Adzuki beans
  • Azuki beans
  • Red beans
  • Red mung beans
  • Mung beans etc.


  • Mochi rice / white gelatonous rice = 2 cups
  • mirin = 4 tablespoons
  • Soya sauce = 4 tablespoons
  • Salt = 1/2 teaspoon
  • Dashi stock = 2 cups
  • Sake = 2 tablespoons
  • Mushrooms = 1/2 cup
  • Adzuki beans = 1 cup


  • Take a cooking pot and add 2 cups of dashi stock into it.
  • With dashi stock add mirin, soya sauce, salt, sake and bring to boil.
  • Then add gelatinous rice into the dashi stock and let it cook on low heat.
  • Flame is low medium so that rice is cooked with stock.
  • On the other hand, boil the adzuki beans and when rice is half cooked add into it.
  • It takes 30 to 40 minutes, to cook rice and make it sticky.
  • After sometimes add water if required.
  • Make sure to cook rice properly, now add this hot rice into serving bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • From steam the rice makes more sticky and juicy.

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